Monday, December 29, 2014

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Harlem Business Owners Stand Against Proposed Bike Lane

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The Department of Transportation wants to add a bike lane on Second Avenue in East Harlem, but Community Board 11 and some residents worry about the impact it'll have on local businesses and traffic. NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.

There is already a bike lane on First Avenue in East Harlem, but except for the occasional delivery person, it's mostly empty or home to illegally parked cars.

Still, the Department of Transportation and the local councilmember want to attract more riders and add a bike lane on Second Avenue.

"This public roadway is a public amenity that belongs to every constituency in this community," said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The DOT plan calls for bike lanes between 96th and 125th Streets. They would be so-called "buffer lanes," meaning there'd be a parking lane separating bikers from traffic.

Community Board 11 was originally onboard with the bike lane proposal but recently rescinded its support, in part over worries that it would affect local stores.

"I think a lot of it came from concerns that members of the board who are business owners along the First and Second Avenue corridor expressed," said Matthew Washington, chairman of CB11.

One of those business owners said he's worried about too much traffic.

"During rush hour, it's just impossible for anybody to move around here, and if we are going to change the bicycle lane, it's just going to make it even more congested than we have," said Frank Brija, owner of Patsy’s Pizzeria.

Under the proposal, First Avenue won't lose any traffic lanes, but Second Avenue will lose one.

Some worry the idling and stop-and-go traffic will increase pollution.

"Right now, East Harlem has the highest rate of asthma in the nation," said Erik Mayor, owner of Milk Burger.

On a chilly December day, there was barely a bike to be seen, but some residents NY1 spoke with said there should be designated lanes regardless.

"There should be one on every busy street because it's safer for the bikers and the drivers," said one resident.

"We really are talking about the health of the city,” said another.

The DOT doesn't have to get anyone's approval, but officials say they want to make sure the community's in line with the proposal going forward.

The plan goes back before the community board next month.

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